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Down under label babel

by Gerrie Lim on Jun 11, 2015 in Lifestyle
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The Robert Oatley Signature Series won a trophy in February this year at the London DBA Design Effectiveness Awards (Photo courtesy of The Collective)

The Robert Oatley Signature Series won a trophy in February this year at the London DBA Design Effectiveness Awards (Photo courtesy of The Collective)

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and wine makers in the New World have long caught on to the fact that a sense of fun never hurt anyone when it came to designing their labels

Wine labels exist for the sole purpose of conveying the promise of joy. Some can appear dull and trite to the uninitiated, while there are others designed to provoke more spirited reactions — after all, a sense of fun never hurt anyone, least of all the wine marketers who know how the right label can reach the right consumer reaching for the shelves.

Research shows that labels striking an immediate impression often result in actual sales, as compared to those enforcing the irritable squint over the small print (resulting in the customer placing it back and not buying). The apotheosis of this would be wines like the famous Art Series from Leeuwin Estate in Western Australia, its labels inspired by the paintings on the bottles from the fabled Chateau Mouton Rothschild from Bordeaux.

The French estate from the Pauillac appellation famously features on its labels a litany of famous artists (from Dali and Picasso to Keith Haring and Jeff Koons), and this piqued the curiosity of Leeuwin Estate founder Denis Horgan after he'd opened his winery in 1978: "I went to Mouton Rothschild and saw the art on their labels, so I asked them if they would mind if we did that on our labels, provided we used only Australian artists."

That practice continues today, as Australia itself leads the charge in designing wine labels that can, arguably, be more interesting and intriguing than those found elsewhere.

One agency responsible for such cutting-edge fare is Sydney design house The Collective, whose managing director and co-founder Rowena Curlewis says: "Consumers buy wines for different reasons — as a gift, as something to impress their peers with, or simply as a reward for themselves at the end of the day. I think there is room for both traditional and non-traditional wine packaging, just as there is room for 'old world' and 'new world' wine brands."

Anatomical drawings of beef cattle feature on Pepperjack's unusual angular, spiral-wrap label for wines made to match two particular steak cuts, Porterhouse and Scotch Fillet (Photo courtesy of The Collective)

Anatomical drawings of beef cattle feature on Pepperjack's unusual angular, spiral-wrap label for wines made to match two particular steak cuts, Porterhouse and Scotch Fillet (Photo courtesy of The Collective)

The famous Art Series from Leeuwin Estate in Western Australia has labels inspired by the paintings on the bottles from the fabled Chateau Mouton Rothschild from Bordeaux (Photo courtesy of Leeuwin Estate)

The famous Art Series from Leeuwin Estate in Western Australia has labels inspired by the paintings on the bottles from the fabled Chateau Mouton Rothschild from Bordeaux (Photo courtesy of Leeuwin Estate)

This is a preview of the "Down under label babel” article from the June 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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